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How Is Powdered Milk Made ? Here’s What Happens

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Powdered milk is a kitchen staple and it helps people out in nearly any situation. Need to add milk flavor but don’t want to add too much moisture ? Need to supplement a bit of formula ? Need to sweeten something in a natural way ? Are you out of regular milk and really need some ? Powdered milk, there you go. 

A key ingredient like powdered milk really deserves more recognition, so today we’re taking a deeper look into it. First we’ll take a look at how powdered milk is made, then the most common questions relating to it. Let’s take a look.

powdered milk

How is powdered milk made ?

Powdered milk is made by spray-drying pasteurized whole, skin, or non-fat milk into a heated chamber. Due to the high heat, the water in the milk evaporates within a second, and the remaining milk solids fall to the bottom of the chamber. This process ensures no moisture is left in the milk powder, leading to long shelf life for the product.

Since powdered milk is simply completely dried milk, it has the same nutrients as the original, liquid milk it was made from. 

Why is powdered milk so sweet ?

Powdered milk is sweet because it still contains lactose, a form of sugar naturally present in milk. It’s what gives it that characteristic milk flavor. Compared to powdered milk, regular milk has lactose spread through the liquid, so your tongue touches less sugar. Powdered milk ends up being a concentrated version of the same milk if you don’t reconstitute it with enough water. 

Some powdered milk brands have added sugars or sweeteners, be sure to look at the ingredients on the back. It should be made entirely out of dairy milk.

Read also: Anise VS Licorice

Why is powdered milk yellow ?

Powdered milk appears yellow because its milk solids are not pure white, due to the milkfat they still contain. Milkfat is a light yellow due to the betacarotene found in the food the cows eat, in order to produce milk. Grass-fed cows have a deeper yellow hue milkfat than others. 

powdered milk yellow

When reconstituted, powdered milk will appear as white as regular milk. However, if you put a sheet of paper next to a glass of milk, you will notice even the milk is not 100% white. 

Keep in mind that powdered milk is not supposed to smell rancid. If the powder is a strong yellow color and has begun to smell, it’s likely gone bad.

Does powdered milk have lactose ?

Yes, powdered milk still has lactose, as much as the original milk it was made from. This is what gives milk its mildly sweet flavor, and in powdered milk it appears more concentrated if not properly reconstituted.

How long does powdered milk last ?

Powdered milk can last up to two years if unopened, though it depends on how well you’ve stored the milk. Powdered milk has almost no moisture content and comes in a sealed container, so it should last indefinitely. Still, most companies label their powdered milk with a ‘best by’ date that is between 18 and 24 months. 

You can tell your powdered milk has gone bad if it’s starting to change color, and to smell. A good milk should be off-white, and not completely yellow. It should not smell at all, except maybe of milk.

The best way to store powdered milk is in a dry, cool place away from direct sunlight. Make sure the container you keep it in is perfectly sealed, otherwise moisture can seep in and cause it to degrade in quality.

Can you reconstitute powdered milk with water ?

Yes, you can reconstitute powdered milk. It will act the same as regular milk, and you can make it in a lighter or stronger concentration. The usual ratio is 1:3 powdered milk to fresh water. We recommend using the same measuring instrument both for liquid and for the powder, so you get a reliable result every time. 

You’ll notice the packaging on the powdered milk asks you to use cold water. While this may be preferable, it doesn’t always dissolve the milk. Your best bet is to use lukewarm water, and mix thoroughly, then let it chill in the fridge if you want it cold. 

Is powdered milk as good as fresh milk ?

Yes, powdered milk is just as good as fresh milk, in that it has the same nutrients as the original milk it was made from. Compared to freshly collected cow’s milk, reconstituted powdered milk is more stable and has a possibly lower fat amount (of skim or non-fat).

This means you can easily serve several gallons of milk from a bag of powdered milk, if you have a large family or a lot of guests that need a lot of milk in one go. It also means you can use it in recipes where it asks for milk, but you do not want to add more moisture through water or even fresh milk.

Is powdered milk the same as baby formula ?

No, baby formula and powdered milk are not the same. Baby formula is actually powdered milk but fortified with minerals, vitamins, and fatty acids that are crucial for a baby’s development and are meant to supplement mother’s milk. Plain powdered milk does not help as much.

If you find yourself in a position where you need to stretch some formula with powdered milk, you can do so but remember that it is missing some key ingredients. It’s still better than nothing though. 

And there you go, now you know how powdered milk is made, what it’s good for, and why it’s so delicious. That concentration of milk solids is key to its typical flavor, and you can easily use this to your advantage. You can get a more concentrated, sweeter milk by just using more powder or adding less water. 

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